COPPER MOUNTAIN, Colo. – Adaptive Sports Foundation (ASF) snowboarders Zachary Elder, Charlie Kleiman and Andrew Stout each had a successful showing at the United States of America Snowboard and Freeski Association (USASA) National Championships this week, April 2-6, bringing home a total of ten awards while competing in the Kekoa Class.
All three snowboarders are members of the ASF Race Team as well as the Catskill Mountain Series (CMS) team, which creates and maintains the avenue for Eastern Regional Athletes of all ages to have great venues to ride, achieve National points, qualify for the USASA National Championships and to receive recognition for their efforts in the sports of snowboarding and freestyle skiing.
Zachary earned gold medals in all six disciplines he competed in; slalom, halfpipe, boardercross, slopestyle and giant slalom. In placing first in all six competitions, Zachary earned the Overall Rider Award for the second-consecutive year, making him the first snowboarder in the Kekoa Class to do so.
The first event of the week was the slalom event, which took place on Sunday. Zachary completed his first of two runs with a time of 35.45 seconds. He improved his time in his second run by nearly two full seconds, finishing that run in 33.56 seconds for a total time of 1:09.83. The next day, Elder hit the 22-foot superpipe in the USASA’s halfpipe contest, where he earned the gold with an 89.00 score.
On Tuesday, Zachary competed in both the slopestyle and the rail jam events. In the slopestyle competition, Elder’s first run was the best, as he impressed the judges and finished with a score of 89.33. While competing in the rail jam, Zachary put together a set that garnered him a score of 1,005.
Zachary’s fifth event came on Wednesday when he participated in the boardercross. He finished with the gold with a score of 1010. Zachary’s wrapped his week up with an impressive showing in the giant slalom on Thursday, posting times of 47.86 and 46.15, respectively, for a total time of 1:34.01, giving him his sixth and final gold medal of the Championships.
“Winning six golds and the Overall Rider Award feels great,” Zachary said. “My three favorite disciplines are the freestyle disciplines; rail jam, the half pipe and slopestyle. You don’t have to race against the clock, you’re just doing your favorite tricks to go with it.”
Andrew earned two medals, one silver and one bronze in the two competitions he participated in. Andrew’s first run in the slalom competition on Sunday was a great way to start the week, as he crossed the finish line in 53.32 seconds. Unfortunately, he fell and slid into a gate on the second run, but Andrew didn’t let that deter him. He managed to right himself and make it down the mountain, finishing his second run with a time of 95.83. In total, his 2:29.15 was good enough for third place in the discipline.
Andrew bounced back nicely in the giant slalom event on Thursday, as he was able to weave his way through the gates on his first run for a time of 58.52 seconds. He finished his second run in 62.89 seconds, bringing his total time to 2:01.41, putting him in second place behind Elder.
“I’m very proud of myself,” Andrew said of his performance. “This was my first time at Nationals and it was great, I loved being there.”
Andrew was invited and ready to participate in the 2020 USASA National Championships, but the COVID-19 Pandemic shut down that year’s festivities. He was able to make the most out of his first trip to Colorado and is looking forward to competing in more events like this in the future.
Charlie’s first run in the slalom ended with a time of 58.49. He improved his time in his second run by over five seconds, crossing the finish line in 53.34, logging a total time of 1:51.83 and reserving his second-place spot on the podium.
This was Charlie’s seventh year competing at the USASA National Championships. “It was good to be back competing at Nationals,” Charlie said. “It was really fun and I’m pretty proud of myself.”
ASF snowboarders earned six gold medals, two silver medals and a bronze medal this week, totaling nine medals. Adding in Elder’s Overall Rider Award, ASF riders brought home ten awards from the Centennial State.
The Kekoa (Hawaiian for “The Brave”) Class was recently created by USASA to recognize the many snowboarders with intellectual disabilities, allowing them to compete for the first time on the same day, time, and courses in all six disciplines as the rest of the snowboard community. The USASA snowboard community embraces inclusion, and it has been very welcoming and supportive of adaptive skiers and snowboarders chasing their dreams.
The Adaptive Sports Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that provides profound and life-changing experiences for children and adults with physical disabilities, cognitive disabilities and chronic illnesses through outdoor physical activity, education, support and community. For more information about the ASF, including how to get involved or how to donate, visit www.adaptivesportsfoundation.org.